I appreciated Bob Kessinger. I first met Bob in 1986 or 87 after I moved to Seth, West Virginia. He just showed up for services one Wednesday evening and introduced himself to me. I had heard of Bob before this time but had never met him personally. The church where Bob labored had their mid-week services on Thursday nights, and this allowed Bob to visit other congregations. He did this a lot. From that time until his death, Bob was always an encouragement to me. Oh, we did not always agree on things, and have had some good discussions, but we were always friends.
When I went to Gallia County, Ohio, to work, I learned that Bob had done a great deal of work in that area, particularly in neighboring Mason County, WV. When I went to Pike County, KY, I knew that Bob had preached at two congregations there: Main Street in Pikeville and at Harold, KY. So, many people in those places knew Bob well, and he was often visiting with me when he was in our area. His visits were always encouraging.
I preached two gospel meetings at Gandeeville, WV, where Bob labored and had the privilege of staying with Bob and Doris. These were good times, and I'll cherish the memories of those weeks. One of the things that impressed me was that everybody in Roane County knew Bob. We would be driving down the narrow roads where he lived, and he would stop the car abruptly and jump out, run up to the porch of a house there, and holler, "Anybody home?" Soon a person would appear, smiling, obviously happy to see Bob. The discussion would not take long to get to spiritual things and a genuine invitation to church services. Then we would go on to the bank in Spencer where every teller would say, "Hey Bob! How are you?" Some would joke around with him for a few minutes. The normally quiet atmosphere of the bank took on a different and louder tone for the few minutes Bob was there. Again, he would always genuinely extend an invitation to all present. The same was true at the hardware store, the doctor's office, the restaurant, etc. Without exception someone would say, "Hey, I heard your radio program this week." Bob was an excellent radio preacher. He was solid and straightforward.
I asked Bob to come to preach in a meeting at Crum June 15-20, 2003. It was a really good week. Bob stayed at my Mom's house. My sister, Debbie, and her son, Adam, also live there. All really enjoyed having Bob around. He just made himself at home and was a big "hit" with my nephew, Adam. Adam, who is now 13, said after that meeting, "Bob Kessinger is my favorite preacher." Bob had a good way with young folks. At this meeting we had two restorations and one baptism. The man who was baptized had never come to services here before. He came three nights and then came forward requesting baptism. Bob talked with him and took his confession. As he came up out of the water, he burst out in song, "Take This Message To My Mother," and proceeded to sing for about 3 minutes. Bob leaned over to me and said, "We've got him now. We can teach him better later." We laughed about that for some time.
Bob came to Crum to preach again in our Fall Homecoming Meeting. He preached Thursday and Friday nights, September 23rd and 24th. Again, it was good to be with Bob. His lessons this time centered on his over 50 years of preaching the gospel, and he related many stories concerning his work over that time. During those two days, Bob and I listened to a tape recording of a debate he had had at Mike's Branch, KY, in the 1970's concerning Premillennialism.
Bob called me on a Saturday night in November 2004. We talked about 10 or 15 minutes, and, again, he encouraged me in the work here. He knew what it meant to work at small and hard places. He told me that he was to have some surgery the following week and asked that I pray for him concerning this. The next day, on Sunday morning at the church house, Bob suffered a severe stroke. He passed on to his reward on November 16, 2004. We learned afterwards that Bob had called several of his friends on that Saturday evening.
I am a better person for having known Bob Kessinger. Our prayers continue to be with Doris and his family. -P.O. Box 285, Crum, WV 25669.
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